It is not surprising that Russia would take steps to block Starlink service—the country's space chief, Dmitry Rogozin, views SpaceX as a chief rival in spaceflight. Rogozin has been critical of both NASA and the US Department of Defense for subsidizing SpaceX through government contracts. (While it is true that SpaceX has received launch contracts from the US government worth several billion dollars, it has also provided launch services at a significant discount compared to other providers.) More recently Rogozin has said Starlink is little more than a scheme to provide US Special Forces with uninterrupted communications.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption The net independence plan is seen as a way for Russia's government to get more control over online life Russia has successfully tested a country-wide alternative to the global internet, its government has announced.It blocks access to many foreign internet services, which in turn has helped several domestic tech giants establish themselves.
Starlink, Rogozin said last August, is part of “a rather predatory, clever, powerful, high-technology policy of the USA, which uses Shock and Awe in order to advance, before all, their military interests.” Rogozin also called SpaceX’s claim that Starlink was created in order to provide Internet service to the 4 percent of the Earth’s surface not covered by terrestrial Internet “nonsense."
Further ReadingRussia’s space chief cannot seem to get “gentle” SpaceX out of his mindThe ban on OneWeb is more interesting, given that the company is using the Russian Soyuz rocket to launch nearly all of its initial constellation into orbit. Monthly OneWeb satellite launches are planned this year, primarily from spaceports in Baikonur, Kazahkstan, and Vostochny, Russia. OneWeb is effectively helping to prop up the struggling Russian launch industry at a time when SpaceX is undercutting the country on commercial launch contracts.
Not to be outdone by Western competitors, Russia is planning its own satellite Internet constellation, known as "Sphere." However there are questions about the affordability of this constellation, which could begin launching in 2024. The program's budget has not been confirmed, but some reports have suggested it could run as high as $20 billion. This is far beyond the amount of money Russia spends on civil space. The current budget for Roscosmos, the Russian space corporation led by Rogozin, receives about $2.4 billion a year.